OREANDA-NEWS Researchers from the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge and the Lusófona University, which are situated in Portugal, conducted a genetic study of the monkeypox virus, samples of which were taken from 15 patients. The study is described in the article of Medical Xpress.

The scientists found that the virus mutated at a rate 6 to 12 times faster than expected. The researchers suggest that the sudden acceleration in the rate of mutation of the virus may be a sign that the virus has developed a new way of infecting people - it is currently thought to be transmitted from person to person through close contact with open lesions, through body fluids or through airborne droplets.

It is noted that previous studies have shown that monkeypox-like viruses usually mutate once or twice a year.

According to the scientists, some of the mutations could be caused by exposure of the virus to the human immune system, in particular enzymes such as APOBEC3, which kill viruses by causing errors in copying the genetic code.

The researchers suggest that the virus had been circulating among humans or animals in some countries in low concentrations. They also note that the accelerated pace of evolution may be a response to measures taken during the 2017 monkeypox outbreak.

Monkeypox, a double-stranded DNA virus of the same genus as smallpox, was discovered in the 1950s and mainly infects people on the African continent. Despite its name, the virus is more common in rodents than monkeys. Previous research has shown that there are two main varieties of monkeypox: in West Africa and in the Congo Basin. The former is less deadly. So far, it has infected several thousand people outside of Africa.